The Night Agent (Netflix) is a kind of mid-range drama. The usual criticisms of 2023 television apply. It’s too dark! As I said to a friend, more people would surely complain about this if they weren’t second-screening all the time. It has become a bad joke that modern TV is too dark. I do wonder when in the production process this decision is made. Is it the camera operator? Are they seeing something different through their viewfinder? Or is it happening during the grading and mastering process? In the edit suite? Is someone physically turning up the dark to the maximum? If so, I’d like to know why. The only conclusion you can draw is that a kind of collective stupidity has taken over the entire industry. Why bother spending money on set design and costume when you can just make the screen pitch dark?
As to the show itself, it’s all right. Unattractive square jawed lead actor, fine. You can tell where the budget runs out with some of the minor roles: people who deliver slightly off key performances. You don’t know who to trust, fairly typical. Twists and turns. By episode 6, they’ve run out of story so they throw in a Shocking Moment (which is not a shock) and string it out for four more episodes. I kept watching (or half-watching) till the end, though. Three stars. Which means, all right if you like that kind of thing.
Daisy Jones and the Six (Amazon) ended up being okay. Less dark, for the most part. As I said, the music was a bit average, so it was hard to believe in this supposedly amazing band. And it got repetitive and predictable because of the hoary old rock clichés. I liked the ending, which I’m going to call The Mary McCartney Moment.
Season 3 of Star Trek Picard (Amazon in the UK) is also okay. A lot of fuss concerning the return of the TNG cast. Fine. Whatever. They all look weird, especially the ones who have been under the knife. The plot is the usual fare. Massive threat, super weapon, whatever. O for the days of weird costumes and stories about free love. It’s better than its previous seasons, but of course the lighting budget has been slashed since the Original Series days. Because I’m not very engaged with it (see what I did there?), I have missed most of the Easter Eggs. Good. People should stop it with the fan service.
Talking of fan service, The Last of Us (Now) was… okay. Not as good as fans of the game thought, but watchable enough. Too dark, but that goes without saying.
The best thing* on Now TV right now is, of course, The Rookie, which is a network cop show with its heart in the right place. I actually look forward to this more than anything else on TV at the moment. The Rookie: Feds is less successful, but watchable enough. Nathan Fillion should get an award for his services to mainstream TV.
Extrapolations (TV+) is just plain bad, I’m afraid. It wants to say something about climate disaster, but it does so by trying to make us care about the wrong things. Florida is sinking? Well, good. And a synagogue is under threat? Shrug. Same reaction to all places of worship: don’t give a shit. And it’s all so very disastrous, climate-wise, that you just end up throwing your hands up. For example, an episode all about how they’re lying to the last sperm whale about there being any other whales left alive, is so completely depressing you end up feeling as suicidal as the whale. And, with all of this stuff, what am I supposed to do about it? Pretending that individuals with their small changes in lifestyle can make one iota of difference when the 1% are plundering the planet. Stop building big fucking cars etc.
Ted Lasso is back too, for its third and probably final season. All pleasant and correct. Still watchable, not no longer the surprise it was in season one, so it’s just okay now.
*No, I won’t be watching Succession. Frankly, the media’s obsession with this show is all about their bubble, and the outsized influence of the moustache twirling villain Murdoch. As with all these shows about horrible rich people, I don’t need it. I already hate rich people. And as a columnist the the Guardian points out, these narratives about how miserable rich people are seem to function as a kind of safety valve for the misery they put the rest of us through. Instead of watching shows in which actors pretend to be unhappy rich people, we should try to make actual rich people as unhappy as possible.